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Zach Banner on Maurkice Pouncey: 'You’ll never be able to fill a gap that 53 left'

(Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

Steelers offensive tackle Zach Banner spoke with the media after today's OTAs practice and discussed a myriad of topics, including his recovery from an ACL tear in Week 1 last year against the Giants. Banner says he's on schedule to be ready for training camp and got participated in today's OTAs session.

Banner, who is projected to be the starting right tackle this year, is the vocal leader for a Steelers' offensive line that is going through a transition with having three new starters on the line this year with the departure of Maurkice Pouncey due to retirement and Matt Feiler and Alejandro Villanueva via free agency.

“You’ll never be able to fill a gap that 53 left,” Banner said of Pouncey via Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “No one will. … But at the same time, it’s not like creating a new environment, it’s taking all the great things from [him] being here."

The Steelers drafted Kendrick Green out of Illinois in the third round of this year's draft and he's the favorite to replace Pouncey at center, but veterans B.J. Finney and J.C. Hassenhauer will also compete for the job.

A few weeks ago at rookie minicamp, Green was asked by the media about wearing No. 53, which is Pouncey's old number, and said that he's got big shoes to fill.

“I wore No. 53 since high school. Obviously, at Illinois, I wore it, as well, so I kind of requested it," Green said. "I got big shoes to fill. I’m gonna work toward that.”

Time will tell how Green does in his rookie year and whether he'll be a Day 1 starter. As Banner mentioned, losing Pouncey is a tough void to fill, especially with his leadership, but Pouncey's play fell off drastically last year and Green could be an upgrade at the position even in his first year.

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